City Guide: 48 Hours in Barcelona
Inside this city guide we show you how to maximize your precious 48 hours in Barcelona. We teach you some history, recommend restaurants, provide transportation and lodging advice, and ultimately show you how to have an amazing time in Barcelona.
All About Barcelona
Known for its beaches, tapas, and stunning architecture, Barcelona is a truly fascinating city. We will show you how to make the most of a quick trip in this 48 hours in Barcelona city guide. Don’t worry about planning a thing since we’ve done it all for you below.
48 Hours in Barcelona: Day 1 Highlights
Bag Drop and Breakfast at the W Hotel: 8:00 – 10:00 AM
We’ve found the best way to fight jet lag is to drink lots of water and keep moving to adjust to the local time zone. Instead of giving in to the urge to nap, start with breakfast at the W. They offer a selection of local flavors, coffee, and many comforts of home. If you don’t stay at the W there are plenty of delicious and healthy breakfast spots like the Milk Bar and Bistro.
Forever Barcelona City Tour: 10:00 – 6:00 PM
With limited time and so much to see, we recommend you go on a city tour to experience the major landmarks. By being part of a well-organized tour you are able to skip the lines and take the optimal route between sites. We recommend using Forever Barcelona tours since they provide a fantastic experience! The tour guides are knowledgeable, helpful, and offer insight that makes you feel like a local.
What to expect?
The tour kicks off with a private van picking you up at your hotel. The provide a driver and a tour guide, so be prepared to enjoy a combination of walking and driving throughout the city. During your time on tour, plan on seeing the sights and learning about the history and culture that makes Barcelona truly special. Oh, also be sure to look up Gaudi because you are going to be seeing an awful lot of his work around the city.
Sagrada Família Church
Under construction since 1882, Sagrada Familia is Gaudi’s masterpiece. The exterior architecture, with its 3 facades and massive towers, is unlike any church you’ve seen. If you’re impressed with the exterior, just wait as the colors come to life inside and blow you away.
You can feel Gaudi’s passion for color and light in each pane of strategically placed stained glass. The rising sun glistens on the nativity facade, revealing tones of blues and greens inside the church which represent the birth and life of Christ. On the opposite side of the church the setting sun beams down on the passion facade exposing red tones that represent his death. Regardless of religion one can truly appreciate the planning and precision in this work of art.
Tip: As part of the tour we purchased skip-the-line tickets for this attraction and they were worth every penny. If visiting during the peak tourist season you should strongly consider arriving earlier in the morning to avoid both the heat and the crowds. The lines outside can get extremely long and you have a lot more of Barcelona to see today.
This failed housing development has become the most iconic park in Barcelona. Here you will experience some of the most Insta-worthy scenic views overlooking the city and Balearic Sea. Strolling through this place will have you questioning whether you’re in the real world or a fairy tale.
Gaudi’s architectural genius is on display as every detail was planned with meticulous precision. Whether viewing the hand laid porcelain mosaics or the stone statue-columns you will never cease to be amazed with the beauty of this place. Take it all in as your tour guide delivers you back in time to learn the historical significance of the land in which the park lives on.
Casa Mila (La Pedrera)
Next, you’ll head back towards downtown to see more of the beautiful works of Gaudi (we told you that you’d be seeing a lot of him!) at Casa Mila. Casa Mila is often called La Pedrera (Translation: Stone Quarry) due to its rough exterior and resemblance of an open quarry. Our favorite part of this stop was the surprising experience on the roof of La Pedrera which offers a spectacular view of the skyline shaped by Gaudi’s designs. While on the roof you will hear the story of Casa Mila’s beginnings and learn about each of its unique design elements.
For lunch, order up a spread of traditional Spanish style tapas to feel like a local. There are plenty of spots near Casa Mila so ask your Forever Barcelona tour guide for some help (sorry we can’t recommend one because we forgot to write down the name!). The Spanish eat lunch later and at a slower pace than we do in the US so be sure to sit back, relax, and enjoy! Since you’re near Passeig de Gracia we suggest making time for a pit stop for some sweet treats from Pastelerias Mauri.
Gothic Quarter & El Call
Walk off lunch while exploring the narrow cobblestone alleys and passing by Roman ruins. It is truly spectacular seeing architecture and culture that span from Roman times to the 20th century all within steps of each other.
It’s easy to get lost in the seemingly endless winding streets of bars, restaurants, and lounges in the Gothic Quarter. Here you will also find El Call, the Jewish Quarter, which is home to the oldest synagogue in Europe. Be sure to check out the Gothic Cathedral for a great photo opportunity. If you want to get inside you should check out their website for visiting hours.
World Fair and Waterfront
After all the wondering, you’ll be happy to hop in the van for the final part of the tour. On our drive up to Montjuic we passed by the World Fair grounds and the beautiful waterfront scenery.
Our last stop was to take in the city’s beauty from a new perspective on Montjuic Hill. We took the van up but if you’re feeling more adventurous you can always take the cable car for a scenic view. During the drive you’ll see the Olympic facilities from the 1992 Summer Olympics that are still used today. Once atop Montjuic Hill you will have some of the best panoramic views of Barcelona imaginable. Be sure to get as many photos as you can to cap off this amazing trip around the city.
After a jam-packed day, your guides will drop you back at your hotel around 6:00 PM, giving you enough time to clean up and prepare for a fun night in Barcelona.
Drinks by the beach: 6:30 – 8:00 PM
After all the touring, you’re going to be hungry and in need of a recharge. Since the Spanish eat later you’ll have time to grab light tapas, espresso, and sangria at Pez Vela before dinner. Located right outside of the W hotel, it will leave you feeling refreshed and offers great views of the crowds on the Playa de la Barceloneta Beach.
Dinner: 8:30 – 10:00 PM
Dine with a view at Barraca, where the tapas and paella are great, yet still not as spectacular as the view. We caught the sunset through an open window next to our table at dinner. With a focus on fresh seafood and paella, this restaurant was a great way to end our first day of 48 Hours in Barcelona!
48 Hours in Barcelona: Day 2 Highlights
FC Barcelona Camp Nou Experience: 10:00 – 12:00 PM
If you’re a sports fan then you cannot miss this one. We recommend taking a cab to the stadium as early as possible and purchasing tickets online to beat the crowds. Depending on the season and game schedule, Camp Nou opens at different times. Be sure to check before your visit.
On this tour you get up close and personal with the field and stroll through the museum beneath the stadium. You feel as if you’re in the presence of greatness, seeing the relics from important moments in the history of this long-standing establishment. You also get a chance to gander at the plans and timeline for New Camp Nou renovations. We loved Barcelona so much we know we’ll be back to see the finished product someday and have a feeling you will too.
Shopping and Lunch: 12:30 – 2:30 PM
Take a cab from Camp Nou over to Passeig de Gracia and walk your way down to La Rambla. Passeig de Gracia is a street that rivals the Champs Elysees as one of the most picturesque shopping streets around. Even if you’re not into shopping, just walking down the tree lined streets is an experience worth making time for. We started off just window shopping but the shops and boutiques were too tempting to pass up a chance to step inside.
Along with plenty of shopping, this area has tons of great restaurants for lunch. Whether you’re looking for something quick or looking to relax with a glass of sangria, you’ll be able to find it here. Keep in mind, this is a super busy street so be prepared to deal with crowds! As you continue down Passeig de Gracia you will hang a right at the Nike store and make your way to La Rambla. Full disclosure, La Rambla isn’t our scene but its still a must when spending 48 hours in Barcelona. Because of this, we briefly enjoyed the human statues and sculptures and decided to head to the beach.
Hit the Beach: 2:30 – 5:30 PM
After seeing so much of the city, you may be looking forward to experiencing one of the more natural beauties Barcelona has to offer – the beach! Enjoy the sun, the Balearic Sea, and some great people watching at Playa de la Barceloneta Beach. Steps away from the city, this beach stretches for over 1000 km. Since we can’t sit still for too long, we recommend taking a walk down the promenade that runs parallel to the beach. Dotted with both traditional and modern architecture, this path has more than just coastal views to take in. We can’t think of a better way to start wrapping up your 48 hours in Barcelona.
Refresh and Refuel: 6:00 – 7:30 PM
Once we’d had enough sun (is there really such a thing?!), we found another great spot right by the beach for some early evening tapas and drinks, Gallito. The interior is an open space which looks out along the beach and sea. We loved the casual vibes, sea breeze, and fresh food here. Be sure to grab some chips and guac and enjoy a refreshing sangria.
Dinner: 8:30 – 10:00 PM
Based on recommendations from our tour guide on Day 1, we decided to spend our last dinner in Barcelona at Bar del Pla. Leave some extra time to find this place because it’s tucked away on side streets with no vehicle access. Check the link above for a picture of the storefront from Tripadvisor and commit it to memory.
With great service and amazing food this place will wrap a bow around your 48 hours in Barcelona. Bar del Pla has a hip vibe and a local feel. They serve authentic Spanish tapas and you can’t pass up the tomato bread or tuna tartare. As a warning, this place can be a bit noisy but its a ton of fun and a must try.
48 Hours in Barcelona: Lodging
We chose to stay at the W Hotel, which is right on the beach and still being close to the action in the city. The W has amazing restaurants and bars that get plenty of action from visitors who aren’t staying at the hotel. Be sure to take a trip to the 26th floor for stunning views from the Eclipse bar. The pool is beautiful and allows for some rest and relaxation when you’re not exploring the city. If the pool isn’t your thing then you can always head down to the beach which is just outside the hotel’s front doors. Along the beach are plenty of bars, restaurants, and spots to sun bathe (beware, this beach has its fair share of nude sun bathers). Staying in a hotel with such an amazing location is critical for maximizing your 48 hours in Barcelona.
48 Hours in Barcelona: Weather
The weather, year round, is pretty much perfect for spending 48 hours in Barcelona. Even in the peak rainy month of October they only get an average of 6 rainy days. This, coupled with daily average high temps that rarely drop below 55, makes for a perfect break from cities notorious for inclement weather (like our home base, Boston).
48 Hours in Barcelona: Transportation Tips
Likely you will fly into Barcelona El Prat Airport which is just a few miles outside the city center. The ride from the airport to most downtown hotels is quick and easy. You will find plenty of cabs to grab around the airport and most speak decent English. The ease of transportation around the city is ideal when you’ve only got 48 hours in Barcelona.
Getting around the city is relatively straightforward and cabs are the primary mode of transportation. When we were visiting there was a strike by the cab drivers to boycott the entrance of Uber and, fortunately, we had a private van for the day (another reason to book with Forever Barcelona). If something like this happens the hotels in the area are very helpful and will assist you in making alternative transportation plans.
That’s all. Don’t forget to share!
If you loved this 48 hours in Barcelona city guide then please don’t forget to share it with your friends. If you have any questions or want to know more about any of the spots mentioned above please feel free to reach out to us. To see more of our city guides you can check out our Towns page.